Archive for the ‘Japan earthquake’ Tag

Japan Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster–4th Anniversary   14 comments

 

Japan Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster – 4th Anniversary

World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster Since Chernobyl : 11 March 2011-2015

 

Fukushima_1_Nuclear_Power_Plant_02_wikifukushima1

In Japan thousands of people are still homeless and all of the nation’s nuclear reactors are still offline, four years after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami caused the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

In March 2011, as radiation began to leak from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 120,000+ residents living within 20 kilometres of were evacuated. High radiation levels still prevent these nuclear refugees returning to their homes, and they still live in fear of long-term health damage from exposure to the radiation, such as cancer.

Fukushima-Nuclear-Radiation-Spread-Map

$15 billion+ has been earmarked for a radiation-reducing project in Japans towns near the reactor. Currently there are 88,000 temporary storage facilities housing the radioactive waste here. Despite opposition from residents there are plans in Tokyo to build close by the reactor a permanent nuclear storage facility.

japonia-fukushima_2050publications comAfter the Fukushima disaster, all 48 Japanese nuclear reactors were shut down and safety concerns have ensured they remain so. 60%+ of the public, according to opinion polls, now oppose nuclear energy.

The United Nations has ignored a 128,000 signatures petition since November, 2013, requesting that charge of Fukushima is taken on by the world community.

Meanwhile, every day 300 tons (maybe more) of radioactive water is still discharging into the Pacific Ocean with the potential for more to follow despite that the tests on currents along the California Coast show that it is already radioactive.

Nuclear evacuees are being forced to return to heavily contaminated areas and evidence of damage to thyroids amongst children who were caught downwind to the disaster are rising frighteningly fast.

However!

  • Since 2012 solar energy production has increased to the point where it now produces the equivalent of eleven nuclear reactors, and industrial wind farms operate very successfully off the coast of Fukushima.
  • Five U.S. reactors have shut since the 2011 Fukushima disaster reducing operating facilities to less than one hundred.
  • The number of US staff who work in solar are now double the number working in coal mines. And the Tea Party’s green section is actively encouraging the use of renewable energies.
  • Germany is increasing its renewable energy output aiming for 80% + by 2050. And France is also switching its interests to renewable energy, and with this in mind has not begun any new construction of nuclear reactors.
  • On a global level the “Solartopian revolution” is coming in both below budget and ahead of schedule.

Japan Nuclear And Earthquake-Tsunami Disaster Anniversary: 2011~2013   39 comments

Japan Nuclear Disaster And Earthquake-Tsunami 2011~2013

“I bowed and begged them to stay…”

Two years ago today the Japanese people were reeling from the nightmare of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake – the most powerful one ever recorded in Japan, and the 30-foot wave tsunami that crashed as much as 6 miles inshore on March 11 2011; It was a nightmare that killed in the region of 20,000 people and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl disaster 27 years ago.

Fukushima Nuclear Plant...Remembering...

Whilst the atomic accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant did not actually claim any lives it has left tens of thousands of people driven from their homes in a mass evacuation and reduced whole towns to an uninhabitable state as a consequence of the dangerous radiation levels. A situation that will probably last for many decades to come.

                     Fukushima-radiation-could-be-ocean-risk  Japanese Evacuees  Contamination

A report compiled by America’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations highlights the heroism of workers at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the disaster’s aftermath, which saw three reactors go into full nuclear meltdown…

“The plant’s back-up generators also failed, leaving most of the facility with no power. Workers struggled to cool the overheating reactors in ‘complete darkness’ while hundreds of aftershocks rocked the area, including two of greater than 7.0 magnitude. The workers persisted in their efforts despite ‘elevated and continuously changing dose rates and contamination levels,’ the report said. Food shortages meant they were given only a biscuit for breakfast and a bowl of noodles for dinner. Many slept on the floor. Some of the workers had lost their homes and families to the tsunami, but continued to toil at the crippled nuclear plant. Some operators volunteered to perform dangerous jobs, the report notes, while many had no formal training for the tasks they were attempting. They relied on "creativity" and "unconventional or unique methods to deal with ‘conditions that were beyond the design basis for the station.’ “ ~ America’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations

Reactor Explosions and Fires

No. 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered an explosion when cooling systems in the Unit failed and pressure inside the reactor soared. Reactor Units Nos. 1 and 3 were blasted by hydrogen explosions which blew the roof off No. 1 unit and tore No 3 reactor apart, and a fire broke out in reactor No. 4 spent fuel storage pond.

                  

  No 4 reactor building Fukushima  FukDaic1 Reactor building covered by steel frame

Masao Yoshida then Fukushima Daiichi plant chief told state broadcaster NHK: "In the first week immediately after the accident I thought a few times ‘I’m going to die.”

Making reference to the explosion of hydrogen that ripped the buildings around rectors 1 and 3 to shreds, he added: "I thought it was all over.”

In a provisional report released by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Masao described how he was forced to face the fact that they had a full blown disaster on their hands “When lights flickered and went out, including those on the control panels.”

fukushima-control-reactor

"I came to realise a tsunami had hit the site as one of the workers rushed into the room, shouting ‘Sea water is gushing in!’ I felt totally at a loss after losing power sources. Other workers appeared anxious. They argued, and one asked: ‘Is there any reason for us to be here when there is nothing we can do to control (the reactors)?’ I bowed and begged them to stay.

As immobilised electrical and cooling systems at the nuclear power plant ground to a halt the largely unsung heroes – the heroic plant workers – in a terrifyingly high risk situation took life-threatening health risks in a desperate, punishing bid to prevent a worse nuclear disaster.

The beleaguered, under fire operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant released accounts from the plant workers’ themselves describing some of their most desperate moments as they struggled and fought to bring the stricken nuclear plant under control…

                No 4 reactor at Fuk Dai plant  Fukushima 11 March 2012 Credit Reuters_Kyodo 

  • Overwhelming challenges as workers endeavoured to manually open a ventilation valve in a vital effort to discharge pressure from a reactor container.

"We put on the full protection gear but couldn’t possibly let young workers do the task, as we had to go into an area where the radiation levels were high. When I got to the place to open the valve, I heard eerie, deep popping noise from the torus (a donut-shaped structure at the bottom of the reactor). When I put one of my feet on the torus to reach the valve, my black rubber boot melted and slipped (due to the heat).” one worker recalled.

  • Dire working conditions as they strove relentlessly to combat the dangerously unstable and crippled nuclear plant.

"We experienced big aftershocks, and many times we had to run up a hill in desperation (fearing a tsunami) with the full-face mask still on,” one worker said.

  • Race against time to set down power cables and reinstate the electric supply:

"We finished the work (in one section) in several hours, although it usually requires one month or two. It was an operation we had to do in puddles, fearing electrification,” the worker said.

  • Explosions and fires at the plant give a free rein to the release of critically hazardous radiation levels, compelling TEPCO to evacuate all but a handful of brave and desperately needed workers, out of a nuclear workforce of hundreds.

                   Fukushima Nuclear Plant Workers  Credit: Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO): radioactive water on the floor inside the building of a water treatment facility at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.  Fukushima No2 Reactor torus room_Credit: REUTERS

Those workers became known as the "The Fukushima Fifty”, but the final numbers of workers risking lives and health to join the battle increased by thousands who were also joined by partner company technicians, the likes of Toshiba and Hitachi.

They undertook the commission of ensuring the steady flow of cooling water streaming into the six plant reactors, three of which none-the-less were later to undergo overheating and ultimate melted down.

Cooling System Failures at Japan’s Power Plants

“Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March” ~ Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters (Japan}

“Nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis whilst fuel rods at the heart of reactor No. 1 melted almost completely in the first 16 hours after the disaster struck.”

A time to remember...2011~2013Fukushima Explosion

“We Came Close To Losing Northern Japan”

~Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Japan Nuclear: Exclusion zone dogs   42 comments

Japan Nuclear: Exclusion zone dogs

12 Months later…

    Image Credit:_Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and SupportJapan Inside The Zone-CheckpointJapan Inside The Zone-Deserted streets and homes

Okuma, Japan ghost town inside the Zone

 

On the first anniversary of the March 11 Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone dogs are dying on the streets of Fukushima’s ghost towns from starvation and hypothermia. Fighting to stay alive in freezing sub-zero temperatures 20-30 pets are now dying on a daily basis. They huddle in ravaged remains of abandoned homes, burying themselves in anything they can find, battling to keep the cold at bay.

Gaunt and starving some are now too weak to move, and can only wait helplessly in desperate hope that rescuers will find them in time.

 

        Radiation WarningN-plant warningRadiation level near Fukushima N-Plant

The fallout from the stricken reactors has turned the 20-kilometre (12-mile) exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant into a dangerously radio-active no-man’s wasteland, the new “Land Of Wolves”.

         Ghost towns inside the Japan exclusion zonejapan exclusion zone deserted streetsChernobyl ghost town of Pripyat inside the exclusion zone

The eerie silence is absolute when you stand in the centre of the exclusion zone, chillingly reminiscent of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, of ghost towns such as Pripyat…Come -Walk with Me in the Land of Wolves… There should be people but there are no-one, there should be life and activity but instead there is only a strange silence and the occasional sighting of gaunt livestock roaming the empty streets. Thriving towns that only one year ago were home to 80,000 people are now ghost towns, frozen in time.

One year on, animal carcasses lie spoiling in the exclusion zone. Cows and pigs have starved to death, and there is no-one left to attend to their bones still lying in the pens. Cats and dogs have died from disease their bones bleaching on the empty streets where cows and ostriches roam, and frogs and snakes supply the occasional meal to the lucky few cats who venture between the eerily flashing traffic lights, on the deserted streets of Japan’s nuclear ghost towns.

     (Image Credit:Eiji Kaji/Ymiuri) A feral ostrich,believed to run away near a ostrich farm, is seen at the Tomioka fishing port , no-entry zone near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.  (Image Credit: Arab Times) Evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Traffic lights flashing eerily directing traffic that is no more in Japan's N-ghost towns

Bicycles lie where they have fallen seeming simply forgotten by careless owners. Nearby bus stops stand silent and empty waiting for the next busload of people that will never come. In a deserted shopping centre, rows of cars waiting soundlessly for the return of heavily laden food shoppers…but there is no-one there. Everyone is gone. There is only the mournful whispering of the wind eddying through a small local store its shelf stock scattered across the floor, the consequence of the March 11 earthquake.

         Tsunami damaged electrical store inside the zoneDesolate: An empty shopping street in the town of Namie inside the 20km exclusion zoneEarthquake damaged local store lies deserted in the Zone of Exclusion

Local Japanese groups have been very keen to be involved in helping to rescue the animals but with so muchSurvivors: Volunteers have braved the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to rescue hundreds of pets abandoned after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year confusion surrounding the issue re the safety aspect of handling animals in the radiation hot spots, and the unanswered question of how they should be tested for radio-activity, this has not been an easy task.

With the appropriate cleaning and quarantine period, they should be safe to handle and adopt, according to Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, who has conducted extensive studies on animals exposed to radiation in the Chernobyl region.

The lucky ones-rescued from the zone by Japan animal rescue groups

Tragically, in the meantime the lost animals of the new Japan exclusion zone are “Dying in the Land of Wolves… “

In Futaba town centre; a sign marking the entrance to the main shopping district. It read, "Nuclear power – the bright future of energy."